Tourism has sprouted wings in Kwa-Mandlenkosi. This was evident at the crowded inaugural meeting of a tourism planning committee recently at H M Dlikidla Primary School. Representatives from diverse organisations discussed the vital role of tourism within the Beaufort West community and the importance of the proposed route through the township. “Until fairly recently, most Africans had little interest in tourism”, said Siphiwe Piti, chairman of the Central Karoo Regional Tourism Organisation. “Developments in the new South Africa, however, have changed this. People now acknowledge tourism as the key to economic and infrastructure development and job creation. In the Karoo we have a wealth of cultures to share with tourists and a range of experiences to offer them. We are constantly working to develop routes and attractions to encourage tourists to do more than simply overnight in the area. The Mandlenkosi Tourism Committee will meet regularly to turn our dreams into realities”. A special workshop, addressed by Open Africa representatives, will be held at the school to discuss finer details of the Mandlenkosi Tourist Route.


Boere in die Beaufort-Wes/Kromrivier- kontrei wat oewerkonyn bewaareas op hul plase gestig het sê die projek blyk ‘n sukses te wees. Die plase vorm nou deel van ‘n projek wat deur die World Wild Life Fund vir Suid-Afrika geborg is. AHuidiglik is daar nog omtrent 30 van hierdie hoogs bedreigde diertjies in die Wes-Kaapgebied,@ sê Chrizette Kleinhans van Wes-Kaap Natuurbewaring wie onlangs ‘n opname voltooi het. “Die oorlewing van die spesies is afhanklik van optimale bestuur van hul habitat wat net in die Beaufort-Wes\Victoria-Wes areas van die Karoo voorkom. Dit is die enigste plek in die wêreld waar die diertjies in die natuur voorkom. Oewerkonyne word meestal deur verlies van habitat bedreig”. Chrizette en haar span van Wes-Kaap Natuurbewaring gaan weereens in Julie ‘n opname doen om meer presiese getalle in die Kromrivier-gebied te bepaal. Diegene wie verdere inligting verlang kan webtuistes And Education/html/riverine.html, besoek.


A conservationist keen to see vultures back in their natural habitat in the Karoo recently talked to bird watchers, nature lovers and farmers in Beaufort West and Prince Albert. Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, group research and conservation director of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, incorporating raptor conservation and vulture study groups, encouraged farmers to establish vulture restaurants to coax these birds back to the Central Karoo. “Years ago, when I visited the Beaufort West area, I saw many vultures nesting on the Nuweveld Mountains. Today, not one is left. Farmers should make a sincere effort to bring them back. Ecologically, it would be a wise move”. Dr Verdoorn, who would like to see poisons used correctly, also discussed his research on a new natural poison which targets only specific predators.


Over the years, two black eagles at the Karoo National Park have gained celebrity status among visitors from across the world. The sheer beauty of the two raptors has even moved the odd tourist to tears. The pair first nested on a ledge just below the look-out site at Rooivalle on Klipspringer Drive five years ago. Visitors strain at the site’s guard rails to get a good look as the two birds build their nest, sit on eggs, feed offspring and eventually teach chicks to fly. When last year’s eaglet eventually took the plunge for its first wobbly flight across the ravine and landed on the other side with a screech of terror, a German burst into tears at the sheer wonder of it. This year, the eagle pair have already started building a nest on the same ledge. Watching the construction work with a group of tourists, ranger Dawie de Villiers said: “It is almost as if they know they are a major attraction and work to maintain their status”.


Die Anglo-Boereoorlog geniet weer aandag. Herman Binge en Hennie van der Merwe van Daisy Productions, vervaardigers van ‘n ABO TV-program met insette oor die Karoo, sê dit sal op 24 Julie op Kyk-Net en op 26 Julie op M-Net uitgesaai word. ‘n TV-span van Pasella het ook onlangs in die Karoo gekuier met Shape-tydskrif. Hulle het die mooiste van die mooi meisies Matjiesfontein toe gebring vir ‘n glansartikel oor somer modes. Toeriste en inwoners het toe ook sommer ‘n onwerwagte modevertoning geniet. ‘n TV span het ook Beaufort-Wes besoek om agtergrond materiaal op te neem vir >n onderhoud wat Dalie Tambo met Prof Chris Barnard voer vir People of the South. Museum kuratrisse Sandra Smit het Prof Barnard se geliefkoste gesang, Wat ‘n vriend het ons in Jesus, op die ou orreltjie in die sendingkerkie gespeel vir die opname. Prof Barnard se moeder het op die orreltjie gespeel toe sy vader die dominee in die kerkie was. Prof Barnard was ook in die kollig op die radio toe hy sy nuutste boek, Fifty ways to a healthier heart, met Tim Modise bespreek het. Tydens die onderhoud het hy onder andere ook die uitstalling van sy toekennings by Beaufort-Wes Museum bespreek.


The man considered to be the father of the South Africa’s quagga breeding project, Rheinold Rau of the SA Museum, recently visited the Karoo National Park and was delighted with the progress the quaggas have made there. Of the original 14 animals sent to the park three years ago, only one has died. He was Allan, who hailed from Ethosa, and was almost 20 years old. There are now 25 quaggas on the plains in the Lammertjiesleegte area. Among them are two newcomers, foals born to Lois in March and to Simunye in May. Neither have yet been named. The quagga was hunted to extinction in the late 1800s. In 1803, German explorer Heinrich Lichtenstein, reported seeing hundreds of wild animals including herds of quagga near present-day Beaufort West. Quagga numbers dwindled as hunting intensified to satisfy the growing demand for their skins to make bags. By 1856, the animals were reported to be “rather scarce”. Hinterland explorer John Barrow reported seeing zebra and a great number of another member of the zebra family, known in the colony by its Hottentot name of “quagga”, near the Geelbek River in the Laingsburg district in 1797. He wrote that “this animal was long considered to be a female zebra, but it is now known to be a distinct species. The animals are beautifully marked with faint stripes on the forequarters”.


A symposium aimed at promoting a better understanding and use of Karoo urban heritage is being planned for September. This joint effort of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMO SA), South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA – formerly the National Monuments Council)) and the Committee for Historical Towns and Villages (CIVVIH) will be held from September 2 to 4 at the Apollo Theatre in Victoria West. Organiser Tabisa Konyashe, of SAHRA, said: “A variety of papers of interest to people involved in tourism, local government, economic and infrastructural development of small Karoo towns will be presented”. Further information from The Apollo Theatre will also host a film festival from September 25 to October 6, this year.


The richly coloured rock faces at the Swartberg Pass entrance at Prince Albert recently brought a Canadian visitor to the town in the form of lichenologist Philip May. Locals peering over his shoulder as Philip studied the rocks, were filled with questions. “What is it?” “Why so many colours?” Philip explained: “Lichen is a composite of two quite distinct kinds of plants intergrown in close, obligatory association. One is a fungus. It forms a dense web of fine threads in which an alga grows. The association of the fungus and alga is an example of perfect symbiosis. The fungus feeds on the alga, which in turn gets water and dissolved mineral salts from the fungus, which protects it from adverse weather and drought. Neither of these organisms can survive alone, yet, together they form an invincible partnership. Lichen lives on bare rock. It survives even in Arctic conditions where no other plant could live. Lichen is the hardy pioneer that plays a vital role in the painfully slow process of breaking down rocks to form soil. Yellow lichen, Dermatiscum thunbergii, is an umbilicate. This means that each microscopic chip is attached to rock by a short, thread. This yellow lichen, pigmented by ‘rhizocarpic acid,’ prefers the cool side of the rock and grows only at certain altitudes on quartzite. At low altitudes it turns brown. The pigment in green lichen responds to sunlight. Orange-red and frilly grey lichens prefer sunny spots lower down on cliff faces. Lichens are sensitive to pollution, so the colourful entrance to Prince Albert bears testimony to pure air”.


Members of the Von Prophalow Society, a light-hearted historical group, will visit the Laingsburg area from September 14 to 16. Historic researcher Dr Cyril Hromnik will discuss some of the ancient Quenna sites he has found on David Luscombe’s farm. The Von Prophalow Society, established in 1988, takes its name from Baron Von Prophalow, who was Commander of the Cape Town Castle and the man who handed the Colony over to the British in 1806. The society’s motto is “History is not dry”. Its logo depicts a hand holding a glass of wine. The group will stay at the Lord Milner Hotel at Matjiesfontein, where members hope to catch a glimpse of the resident ghosts before they down a glass of wine.


‘n Kleurvolle karretjie het die aandag van Majore Bennie Malloy en Glen Adriaanse van die Dienskorps getrek toe hulle in Murraysburg op besoek was vir toerisme besprekings. Tot hulle verbasing het Alida Vermeulen, voorsitter van Murraysburg Reklame Vereniging, onmiddellik aangebied om Langoor en Kordaat te gaan haal en die twee op ‘n rit deur die dorp te neem. “Die karretjie is te pragtig”, het Glen gesê. “Dit lyk sowaar of dit van groot Lego-blokkies gemaak is. Ons kon nie glo dat die vernuftige mense van hierdie afgeleë dorpie op sulke kort kennisgewing vir ons ‘n donkiekar-rit sou kon aanbied nie”. Maar Alida en haar tourismespan glo donkies is deel van die kultuur van die platteland. “Ons sal graag wil hê meer toeriste moet vanaf hierdie karretjie kennis maak met ons dorpie”, het sy gesê.


The coalfields of the old Cape Colony have captured the imagination of Beaufort West freelance researcher Arnold Hutchinson. Searching for the history of coal and pseudocoal in the Great Karoo, Arnold found that “the first recorded discovery and use of coal by Europeans was in the Franschhoek Valley in 1699”. So says John Devenish in his Coal, Pride of South Africa. Devenish also states that Africans, however, used coal long before the Europeans arrived. Arnold says: “Coal was found and used in the Karoo in the 1800s. Over the years, many researchers reported finding ‘veins’ of a brittle, jet-black, lustrous coal-like substance that were fissure fillings in Karoo beds. ‘Coal’ was discovered on Leeuwrivierspoort, then part of Klipplaatsfontein, in 1864 and 1865. There were also reports of finds on Buffelskloof in the Aberdeen district in 1875. A geological survey reinvestigated this pseudocoal between 1940 and 1942. In all, there were about 30 occurrences of pseudocoal in the Dwyka, Ecca and Beaufort Series of the Karoo System. “There are also reports of small mines on 14 farms in the Merweville district. These were Langekuil, Wilgeboschkloof, Hartebeestefontein, Oudeberg, earlier known as Rietpoort, Sambokkraal, also known as Hamelkraal, De Drift, Tweefontein, or Platdoorns, De List, Kruisvlei, Ongeluksfontein, Leeuwkraal, also known as Elandsfontein, Varsfontein, De Puts, once also called Leeuwfontein, and Zeekoevallei”, says Arnold.


Prince Albert’s popular Swartberg Hotel, damaged by fire last December, will re-open on September 1. Fred and Anobé Badenhorst, who farm in the district, recently bought the hotel. “It has been a landmark and central to tourism in Prince Albert since it opened in the mid-1800s. We aim to keep it so”, Fred said. “Early travellers stopped at the Swartberg Hotel to rest and refresh themselves before tackling the daunting Swartberg Pass. Government officials and road builders met here. Fortune hunters, preachers, explorers and travelling salesmen were regular guests. Victorian ladies held tête-à-têtes in the writing room. The lounges, dining room, bars and gardens were places to socialise, discuss business, grumble or gossip. The gold rush to Spreeuwfontein and Klein Waterval brought a more rugged clientele to wet their whistles and test their luck at cards. The hotel’s gambling ghost dates back to this time. Many have seen him playing poker in one of the rooms. We hope the fire didn’t scare him away”. While builders, painters and decorators are hard at work repairing fire damage, Fred and Anobé are busy gathering historic information, old photographs and stories from all who have good memories of the hotel.


Die Royal Hotel in Beaufort-wes is weer oop. Hierdie bekende baken op die hoofpad deur die Karoo, huisves toeriste al vanaf 1850. Nuwe eienaar Morné du Plessis, wie voorheen by die Wagon Wheel en Karoo Lodge in Beaufort-Wes asook by Tuinroete en Weskus hotelle gewerk het, het groot planne vir die toekoms “Ons gaan die hotel se positiewe aspekte uitbou. Die Kelder, wat beroemd is vir goeie biefstuk en ‘n bekostigbare spyskaart sal uitgebrei word en die kroeg gaan in ‘n gesellige kuierplek, Die Kolskoot, omskep word. Die ou Lyrieksaal gaan herdoop word as Die Dorsvloer. Dit sal beskikbaar gestel word vir funksies, troues en partytjies. Daar sal ‘n lesingsaal wees vir seminaars. Ons gaan ‘n swembad en lapa bou en die perseel, insluitende Hillstraat, omhein sodat meer veilige parking aangebied kan word.”


Several top tourism industry VIPs recently visited the Central Karoo. Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo, Chief Director, Tourism Support, of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in Pretoria, delivered a talk in Prince Albert during LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development) week. She was accompanied by Dr Joseph Raputsoe, Director, Quality Assurance and the man responsible for the new tour guiding programme, and Noma Xhosa Jongilane, Director, Communications. Dr Mike Fabricius, CEO of Western Cape Tourism Board, visited Beaufort West, Prince Albert and Laingsburg for discussions with tourism stakeholders. Dr Laurine Platzky, Deputy Director-General, Business Promotion and Tourism, of the Western Cape Department of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Tourism, also had discussions on tourism and other development projects while in the Karoo.


Laingsburg se tweede Karoofees vind gedurende die laaste naweek in Oktober plaas. Organiseerder Ronica Groenewald sê: “Daar sal iets vir almal wees insluitende stalletjies, troeteldier-, baba- en modelvliegtuigskoue, bandgooikompetisies en skaaphondvertonings. Vir die wat iets bedrywig soek is daar 4 x 4 roetes en die Vloedroete is die gewildste. ‘n Sewes rugby toernooi word vir sportsgeesdriftiges aangebied en daar is ook ‘n dans. Dit gaan ‘n naweek van pret wees gekoppel aan heerlike tradisionele kos, Karoo gasvryheid en bekostigbare verblyf”.


Beaufort West Tourist Bureau AGM, July 25 in the old Mission Church at the Museum; Beaufort West Marathon, August 11; Prince Albert Mini-Festival, August 11; Prince Albert Tourist Bureau AGM, August 28; Laingsburg, Karoo Ultra-marathon, September 29; Laingsburg Karoofees, October 26 to 28; Prince Albert Harvest Festival, November 24; Murraysburg Sneeuberg Cycle Crawl, December 1; Prince Albert Carols by Candlelight , December 2; Prince Albert Christmas Bazaar, December 15, 2001; Prince Albert Olive Festival, April 26 to 28, 2002.